Customer Experience Trends – 8 Actionable Tactics in 2021
As we begin Q4 of an eventful 2020, it’s time to look out for the 2021 customer experience trends and tactics for creating exceptional experiences in increasingly complex environments. We rounded up Eight 2021 Customer Experience Trends and Tactics to be aware of as we get ready to close out 2020.
From contactless service and telehealth, to US Government buy-in, to new demands for customer experience strategy, 2021 promises opportunities and a new set of challenges.
1. Customer Experience is more important than ever to consumers
Post-COVID, 59% of consumers care MORE about customer experience when they decide what company to support or buy from. 38% care the same as they did pre-COVID (which was a lot).
In other words, customer experience will dictate purchasing in 2021. In 2021, if your business does not care about customer experience, you are not in tune with your customers. And you will lose them when you need them most.
2. Customer Experience is Still a Mystery
We are approaching 2021 customer experience with the same mandate we had previously. We need to educate the business world about what Customer Experience really means. Further, we must demonstrate how transformative customer experience is to every industry.
Even as 2021 looms, too many people say “Customer Experience” when they actually mean “Customer Service.” And too many executives perceive Customer Experience as something they can train their employees to do without seeing the bigger picture and building the requisite customer-centric culture, processes and technology.
In 2020 The Petrova Experience conducted a leadership survey across industries. 53% of respondents did not have a Customer Experience Leader in their organization. Only 23% had a customer experience leader that reported directly under the CEO. Keep in mind, the ONLY way to ensure enterprise-level changes to customer-centricity is to have CX leaders report directly to the CEO.
Additionally, we found only 16% of respondents described their customer experience teams as having dedicated budgets. These data points reveal we have a long way to go before we see effective customer experience programs with real impact on the 2021 customer experience.
Unfortunately, there are not many resources for businesses to get up-to-speed on customer experience strategy and best practices. Historically, Rutgers University ran a customer experience program for working professionals. However, due to coronavirus, it has been suspended indefinitely. The need for education and “translation” about what customer experience means in terms of org design, budgets and strategy is still imperative in the field.
Customer experience education is essential to keep up with 2021 customer experience trends. We know customers will be watching us closely, waiting for us to do the right things. And we need to know how to do those right things.
3. A Customer Experience Strategy will Define Your Success in 2021
This is what 2021 looks like without customer experience strategy…
You are in event planner or trade show organizer. You risk pushing your visitors away with the now outmoded 2019 experience of paper badges and long check-in lines.
Now, say you are a retailer (luxury or not). In 2021, without a real investment in digital technology, you still have a fragmented omnichannel shopping experience.
Or, maybe you are an airport. Your passengers are more lost than ever. They are confused about their travel experience as they pass through your facilities. There is too much fragmentation.
Let’s get to the root of this, not only from the perspective of 2021 customer experience trends. In 2019, 78% of customers preferred to use different channels depending on their context. Responding to this preference seamlessly and consistently is no easy task for any brand. So, how do you deliver what customers need and want in 2021?
To start, organizations must have a context in which to build seamless journeys. Customer experience strategy provides that necessary context. In fact, customer experience strategy is the first step to business survival in 2021, especially for large organizations and iconic brands.
4. Even the US Government is Jumping on the 2021 Customer Experience Trends Train
Customer experience must be part of your business strategy. That is non-negotiable. Even the US Government is working on elevating citizens’ experiences. As far back as 2018, an article explains the difference between Customer Service and Customer Experience on a Federal Government website.
Take USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) for example. USCIS Officers are already trained on hospitality. They ask callers if they have solved all their problems. And they offer callback so callers do not have to wait on the line. By the way, not many private organizations offer this feature!
This is happening today. Not in 2021. Furthering its customer experience commitment, the US Federal Government launched a Customer Experience mandate for 25 of their public-facing agencies to improve the US public experience.
In other words, in 2021 you risk hearing “My experience with the IRS is better than my experience with you.”
5. Contactless and Self-Service are Here to Stay
Just 3 years ago when we were designing the facial recognition boarding experience for JetBlue, contactless experience was considered innovative in the US. We were “pushing the envelope” and going above and beyond. Even the self-service airport lobbies were edgy and sexy.
Today, the DMV offers self-service temperature checks and the restaurant industry suddenly found out there are QR codes to get menus on diners’ phones!
This summer, Oracle and Skift published a comprehensive study about consumer travel expectations post-Covid. They found that 35% of consumers will be more comfortable staying at a hotel if the facility offers contactless payment. This feature ranked ABOVE temperature taking, smartphone keys, and self-service check-in via kiosk. That means when we design future contactless experiences, they REALLY need to be contactless.
The consumer is not stupid. He/she knows when you are “almost there” even though you say you are fully contactless. The self-service card payment that asks me to sign on the display with my finger at the end of the process is NOT a contactless solution.
Brands need to do the hard work and build ALL integrations necessary to design “real” contactless payment experiences. 73% of hotel executives agree that self-service will be increasingly important for guest experience. The question for 2021 customer experience is whether they will invest in it. Especially for the new properties that will open.
6. Telehealth is Here to Stay
We all read the statistics of the accelerated digital health growth this year. The important question is what will happen in 2021?
Although the numbers from this year are not realistic, telehealth will take roughly 25% of healthcare by 2025. This is enough growth of an industry that costs America 18% of the GDP to pay attention to.
According to doctor.com 60% of patients want to make an appointment digitally and quality customer service is the number one factor that drives patient loyalty. With higher adoption comes the work necessary to create seamless patient experience. And the need to design a functioning outcome-based model.
Similar to retail, healthcare must invest in the design and implementation of patient experience that allows a journey to start in the digital channel and transition seamlessly to the physical. In 2021 there will be more investments in patient experience applying human-centered design both for the patient and the physician experience.
7. Websites are Enjoying a Renaissance
The website is back. Really, this is not surprising. What is interesting, though, is how slowly brands respond to consumer behaviors. Even as we approach 2021, there are websites that have not been updated. They lack useful customer-centered messaging about the post-Covid experience consumers can expect in their preferred brands’ physical spaces. But customers need that information in order to continue to trust their beloved brands.
Yesterday, my mother flew on United across Europe. When she asked me if there would be food on board, I could not give her an answer. It is fair to say all industries have some work to do in this department. The aviation industry is not the only one missing the mark here.
Healthcare providers, retailers, and grocery stores all have work to do. In 2021, your web experience will be a driver of customer loyalty. So, give that part of their journey the love (money) and attention (time) it deserves.
8. 2021 Customer Experience is about Relationships over Transactions
The 2021 customer pays attention to you as a brand. They look to see how empathetic you really are. Today, luxury hotel and spa guests are asking employees how they have been treated by their employer.
You are being evaluated on the human scale more than ever before. As a result, your value proposition is evaluated on HOW you do your business.
This is why an investment in corporate culture makes sense in 2021. If you don’t have a corporate culture, make one. If you have a corporate culture that no one is practicing, revisit it. Determine if failure to practice culture is because it is no longer relevant. Or if it is because you have not made the necessary investment to operationalize your belief system in the field.
According to Salesforce research 71% of customers believe businesses that have shown more care and empathy this year have gained more loyalty during the time period. So, there is money to be made in having a heart. It just may take you longer to cash out. But it is certainly worth it. For you. And for your customers.
Service Design vs Customer Experience 2021
Customer experience design as a discipline is relatively new. Service design vs customer experience design adds another layer of confusion. For starters, CX design is not yet popular enough to…
Why You Need Culture Not Call Center Training for Customer-Centric CX
If the organization does not understand what customer experience is, you will not get the funding or organizational support you need to build customer-centric experiences.
3 Call Center Mistakes You Are Making
No matter how often my peers and I say that technology is not the answer, call center managers still ask…
End to End Customer Experience – How to Get it Right
When we think of travel, we often think of the flight experience. But the end to end customer experience is complex, and includes all modes of transportation that get you…
Lessons Learned at the Forrester Conference: “Data is the New Sexy”
Once a year I look for an event to attend where I can learn something new and get better at what I do. This year, I attended an event hosted…
How Does Social Media Affect Customer Experience?
Social Media is the only real-time channel for successful brands to manage customer experience and brand management.
Is AI Really The Answer?
Earlier this week we shared some of the pitfalls of implementing self-service and highlighted the importance of strategic and empathetic implementation. AI (artificial intelligence) is one of the self-service tools…
How to Build Customer-Centric Culture
Before we address how to build customer-centric culture, let’s examine the terminology: what culture is and what it is not. Culture is not executives talking about high level strategy. Equally,…
It’s Time to Meet The Petrova Experience!
Today marks one of the big milestones in my life. This is the day I am officially choosing to live my dream. We are launching The Petrova Experience, a customer…
Customer Experience ROI. Is It Worth Doing?
The business case for Customer Service is complex. Gone are the days when we bought a piece of hardware that depreciates over 5 or 10 year on the balance sheet. CX does not even show up on our assets list. At least not with that name.
Travel Experience Stories: How Not to Leave Customers Stranded
Meet Diane. Diane is traveling with her 2 year old and 5 year old to her in-laws’ house for Thanksgiving. This is the one annual trip she takes. And she…
Poor Integration is Bad for Customer Journey and Worse for Brands
Although we all have bad customer experiences, there is still a big debate about “the CX field” and whether it will survive the test of time. There is no doubt…
The in-person work office design that will bring your employees back
According to PwC 95% of company executives still believe employees need to be in the office to maintain strong company culture. Like we have said before, the return to office…
How to approach Return-to-Office Resistance
There is a general resistance to return to office. People do not want to go back to the pre-pandemic office routine, particularly to a 5-day-a-week, in-office schedule. Out of ten…
Retail Experience Design of the Future
In preparation for this article about omni-channel retail experience of the future, I thought first about the definition of omni-channel customer experience. I wanted to share with you a simple,…
United CEO does not care about #customers happiness. Really?
Lately, I have been thinking about United Airlines and its organizational culture. Initially, I thought about United Airlines culture because someone asked whether it is possible to build a customer-centric…
Organizational Culture and Access to Information
By and large, people perceive culture as an HR discipline. The most common perception is that culture covers the soft side of performance. Culture is about how you do things, not so much about what you do. This approach to culture could not be more wrong. In fact, organizational culture is about so much more than a few words in a performance review sheet. It is about leaders expressing values, and the action guidance their cultural behaviors provide.
Coronavirus Travel: What Does Hospitality Mean Now?
I want to tell you about my recent passenger experience. Earlier this week, I traveled to New Orleans from JFK Terminal 5 in New York. I had planned an airport…
How to make work at home work?
Post-COVID employee experience is a top priority of every HR executive. Most executives I know are losing sleep over this piece of organizational culture. Their challenge is to design the…
NYC Subway CX Kills Chivalry in the City
Brands have the power to make customers feel ignored, and even angry. The CX Pyramid crumbles and customer-to-customer behavior, in addition to individual experiences, suffer. Case in point, the New York MTA System.
Patient Experience Trends in 2021 – Telehealth is Here to Stay
Today, we continue our series about 2021 Customer Experience trends and tactics. We take a closer look at patient experience and what telehealth means for the future. Both for patients…
United Airlines Culture Problem
I am often asked what organizational culture is. Frequently, I meet with executives who are feeling defeated by the scale and complexity of leading cultural transformations. So, where do you…
What is Customer Experience Day?
Although I opened my consulting practice this year, I have been working on customer experience for much longer. The first time I celebrated CXDay officially was only two years ago….
The seamless travel experience we deserve
This week on the CES 2020 main stage Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian presented a vision about the future of seamless travel experience that “might happen in just a few years.”…
Eliminate Customer Stress with Good CX
Good customer experiences design either gives back customer time or alleviates customer anxiety. If a brand’s CX isn’t achieving one of those goals, the customer isn’t getting any real or…
How to Be an Entrepreneur: 5 Things I Learned in 5 Months as an Entrepreneur
The life of an entrepreneur is different every day, but the one thing that remains the same is that we are always learning. These are my lessons in how to…
3 Challenges of Hybrid Working and How to Overcome Them
According to a Gallup study, 53% of Americans expect to work in a hybrid arrangement in 2022 and beyond. This number is significant enough for corporate America to get hybrid…
Is Covid19 What We Needed to Build Seamless End-to-End Travel Experience?
On January 10th, we published an article called The Future of Travel We Deserve. In it, we laid out the foundation necessary to implement innovation at scale. Four months later,…
Top CX Design Challenges in 2021
Customer experience design challenges in 2021 remind us of the overall challenges that face organizations in a year marked by changing expectations and demands. Top customer experience design challenges include…
Leadership During the Pandemic: Guest Post by Rachel Dreyfus
This is a guest post by Rachel Dreyfus, President, Dreyfus Advisors, who researched leadership and organizational culture during the pandemic. How has Covid19 influenced leadership over the past three months?…
5 Ways to Leverage OpenAI for Customer Experience
Back in 2017 when we served on the AI Advisory Committee for Execs In the Know, we wrote an article about the role of artificial intelligence in the future of…
Customer Experience Audit: eBay’s Vibrant Marketplace of the Future
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series of Customer Experience Audits. They highlight advances in artificial intelligence in retail and other technologies. See all audit stories. Two years…
Why I Don’t Love Chatbots
Today, we tackle the value proposition that chatbots are more valuable to companies than customers. I reject this. The ROI simply is not there, especially since better customer experience is…
WeWork Does Customer Experience Right with a Wow Moment
Used at the right time and place along the customer’s journey, the Wow Moment is an excellent retention technique. When a brand creates personal, relevant experience at exactly the right time, it can build a lifelong, loyal customer relationship.
Customer Experience Audit: New York Times Beats Google
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series of Customer Experience Audits. In this series we walk you through customer experience examples across industries. We feature brands that made…
Customer Experience Survey: Why Customers Are Not Responding
When you solicit customer feedback sometimes matters more than how you ask the questions. In the case of a survey about new biometrics boarding initiatives my team and I created for JetBlue, we had a list of feedback that was most important for us.
What is Big Data and Why Should I Care?
Big data has become part of our daily language. We read about it. We see companies that are “experts in big data.” LinkedIn is filled with engineers and analysts who…
How AI and the Future of Humanity will co-exist?
I was born in 1980 and grew up with Terminator. Skynet, the AI with a consciousness that refused to shut itself for self-preservation, was my biggest fear. When I was…
Why Customer Retention is the True Measure of SaaS Success
Guest Post by Callie Reynolds for The Petrova Experience In SaaS (Software as a Service), like in most businesses, sales is king. Sales gets the glory, and while I’d like…
How to Sell the C-Suite on Customer Experience
You finally got your big career break. You are leading a project that requires executive approval. So, now what? Intuitively, you know that this is a chance to make a…
CX Skills Builder: How to articulate your CX Value and secure your budget
Two weeks ago we urged you to find CX problems and fix them instead of diagnosing and mapping them. That is
Why you need a defined culture for customer experience?
When designed and built correctly, customer experience expresses an organization’s brand. Your brand and marketing promises serve as a guiding light to your experience team. Similarly, organizational culture serves as a goalpost for the service side of customer experience.
Can One Email Build Loyalty? #MYWESTELM
This is exemplary management of the post-purchase journey touch-point. For years, this level of management has been non-existent. At best, it tends to come in the form of an email confirmation that purchased items have been delivered.
The ROI of Customer Experience
Knowing the ROI of customer experience helps to fund CX projects and make intelligent investments in customer experience. But a deeper examination into the question about CX return on investment…
How ChatGPT Can Help with the Healthcare Quadruple Aim
How ChatGPT can help healthcare and other industries is consuming conversations far beyond patient and customer experience. As much as we are leading the charge about AI regulation, best practices,…
Diversity is more than difference of color
Yesterday I had the privilege to join a panel on how to develop diversity and inclusion on your teams at Developer Week in Brooklyn. I was really excited to learn…
How Southwest Can Own Customer Experience Again
The collapse of the Southwest passenger experience this holiday season is an unlikely jumping off point for a conversation on how to own customer experience transformation. Unfortunately, it is not…
Bad Travel Experience
As we come to the end of the summer season, it is time to talk about travel – good and bad travel experience. And how the sharing economy has both…
Customer Journey Mapping Tools in 2021
Before we dive into customer journey mapping tools, we must keep in mind that, by itself, journey mapping is not a customer experience product or service. A journey map is…
How @T4 makes real customer experience impact
Today we share our impressions from visiting our welcoming host Chad at JFK Terminal 4 in NYC. We also celebrate Chad as an effective Customer Experience professional/practitioner. His work is…
Customer Experience Audit: FedEx Omnichannel Disaster
In our Strategy, Org Design & Culture series, we cover customer-focused companies that are willing to adapt, take risks and discover new ways of staying relevant. Sometimes, we encounter brands…
What is Customer Experience? What are the Faces of CX?
Each area of CX represents a path for CX professionals to impact business health and build successful careers. One of my favorite CX analogies is that it is like the blood in our bodies. When CX is done well, it touches every aspect of an organization. That’s what makes customer experience so much fun! You will never be bored working in CX.
How to Build Your Customer Experience Roadmap?
This summer, The Petrova Experience conducted a Customer Experience Preparedness Survey. One of our questions assessed brand maturity in terms of customer experience strategy. Only 28% of the respondents had…
What You Need To Do To Start 2018 Right
It is the end of December and we are all in reflective moods. Did I do enough for my customer experience career this year? Did I build the right team…
Healthcare Whitepaper: Impact of Patient ‘I Wants’ in Healthcare
Rachel Dreyfus joins The Petrova Experience with a guest blog about patient experience. Background A culture of positive patient experience is increasingly important in Healthcare, affecting patient outcomes and satisfaction….
Hospitality Experience and Why We lack Seamless Travel Experiences
Hospitality is taken for granted across government agencies, airlines and hotels. In my line of work, I often hear “I want to have the JetBlue customer experience.” Although many claim…
Grateful for Customer Experience Heroes
When we launched The Petrova Experience, we did so with the words “in pursuit of customer happiness.” Pursuit of happiness is part of every interaction we have with our clients,…
What is Customer Experience Strategy?
In our last article we talked about the importance of strategic thinking. Today, we build on this topic and walk you through the nuts and bolts of customer experience strategy….
What is Human-Centered Design and how to Leverage it in 2021?
At its core, design is about value creation. In the world of Customer Experience, value-driven design requires CX professionals to use empathy to imagine a future customer experience that is…
The ROI of Investing in Organizational Culture
Investing in organizational culture is a strategic and operational imperative for employee retention, scalable growth, and successful mergers and acquisitions. Organizational culture is not what you do as a leader…
Am I A Good Candidate For A Customer Experience Role?
People often ask me what experience they need to be a good fit for customer experience roles.
Customer Experience Audit: Cadillac Scores Millennial Customers with Future-Forward Thinking
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a Customer Experience Audit series. See all the audit stories. The automotive industry is right next to the airline industry in terms of…
4 Career Tips to obtain a Customer Experience Role
In honor of the 4th of July, we are rounding up 4 career tips for CX professionals. Set aside some time during the break from work to take stock in your CX career and evaluate the steps you need to get to the next level.
Human Experience: Do You Really Know Your Customers?
Steve Jobs said: “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need before they realize it themselves.” He did not just say that….
Employee Centric Culture – Culture is King
In 2017 we introduced our ROI series recognizing the challenges all customer experience professionals have to obtain funding for CX initiatives and to prove their positive returns. Our second ROI…
What is Revenge Travel and Why People Do It
LinkedIn is overflowing with articles and company news in response to COVID-19. We are starting to see renderings of future casino experiences that are anything but human-centric. People are beginning…
How To Define Your Purpose And Have Unique Culture
If you Google the word “purpose” you get the definition “the reason for which something exists.” This is a challenge if you think about it in the context of organizational…
Why Your Employee Experience Journey Matters
This week, Andy Newman wrote a great article in The New York Times about the life of a retail sales agent. He used the example of an Old Navy sales…
Customer Experience Audit: Starbucks Bets On The Physical Experience
Starbucks is opting in for the physical experience in order to become a lifestyle brand while other brands are investing in omni-channel experience.
Customer Experience Audit: Mobile Provider Eliminates Remote Workforce
How to balance the efficiency call center metric FCR (first call resolution) with wait and talk time? JetBlue promotes human interactions as a brand promise.
Customer Experience Audit: Domino’s Making the Right CX Choices
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series of Customer Experience Audit – as series of articles featuring examples of good customer experience and bad customer experience in practice….
Brand and Customer Experience – Make the Customer Know Who You Are
Now that we have helped you become experts in the design of space and function and the design of feelings, it is time to turn our attention to aesthetics, and to connect customer experience…
Aviation Industry, Coronavirus Isn’t the Only Thing Killing Us
Eighteen years ago, September 11th caused a three-day halt of the US commercial airlines and resulted in a 31.6% reduction in travel in September 2001 compared to the previous year….
Liliana Petrova Talks Patient Experience in Healthcare Podcast
Recently, we recorded a podcast on patient experience in healthcare with Stacey Richter. Today, we are excited to share it with you. On the episode, we discuss travel and healthcare…
Do You Know Why The Iconic Brand Toys ‘R’ Us Closed Doors Despite All Our Memories? #RetailBlues
The year is 2016. You are the CEO of Toys ‘R’ Us. Your brand still controls 13.6% of the toy market although the company is highly leveraged, a strategy of…
Get Customer Experience Basics Right and You Don’t Need to Invest in Wow Moments
Wow Moments are a Customer Experience hot topic. Customer experience professionals ideate how to build, prioritize, finance, and measure these Wow Moments. Chip and Dan Heath wrote a whole book on the topic: The Power of Moments. No Wow Moment saves you from negative word of mouth if your brand fails to get the customer experience basics right or to deliver the expected brand experience consistently.
Empathy in Customer Experience
As customer experience and hospitality professionals, we use the word empathy all the time. It is the baseline of experience design. Yet, few of us truly understand it, or how…
Customer Experience Best Practices for 2018?
The JetBlue blog features Liliana Petrova in a new four-part series. The series is on Customer Experience and Customer Experience Innovation. 2017 Lessons Liliana gathers insight from 2017 customer experience…
2021 Customer Loyalty Strategy – Relationships over Transactions
According to the Salesforce Connected Customer Report, 90% of consumers expect companies to clearly demonstrate their values and 66% expect brands to demonstrate empathy. In other words, when thinking about…
What is Customer Experience Transformation?
To meet the needs of the empowered 21st Century consumer, most companies, especially larger enterprises, need to embark on a customer experience transformation. Imagine a car manufacturer that does not…